Wake-up call: Steelers to play in Ireland?

June, 21, 2012

By Jamison Hensley | ESPN.com

Every morning, grab a cup of coffee and get your AFC North wake-up call here:

Could the Pittsburgh Steelers play a regular-season game in Ireland?

If Dan Rooney has his way, it will eventually happen. League officials visited Dublin's Croke Park this year and found the venue "very attractive."

"I think sometime very soon it will happen and I think the commissioner is interested in working something out and, sure, I'd like to see the Steelers involved," Rooney told the BBC News-Northern Ireland site.

Rooney has been the United States ambassador to Ireland since 2009.

Hensley's slant: I've never been in favor of moving regular-season games from fans here in the United States, especially the ones who pack their home stadiums. I understand that the owners want to market the game internationally. That generates more revenue. I just dislike the fact that one of the eight games at Heinz Field in a given season could get displaced because of Ireland.

BENGALS: ESPN's John Clayton told the Bengals' official website that he is going to wait before giving a final grade to the Bengals, but he thinks Cincinnati is going to be in the hunt thanks to another big draft. "They're not as good as Pittsburgh and Baltimore yet," Clayton said. "(But) let's put it this way. I think they're going to be contending for years." Clayton questions the addition of running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis. "He's never carried it very much or been the lead guy," Clayton said. "He isn't used to a lot of carries and he's going to a running division and running team." Hensley's slant: There weren't any explosive running backs available in free agency. Cincinnati had to choose between Green-Ellis and Michael Bush. Green-Ellis provides more ball security and more power in the red zone.

BROWNS: Josh Cribbs set career highs in receptions (41), receiving yards (51 and touchdown catches (four) last season. He still believes he can make an impact as a wide receiver. “I’m going to catch the ball when it’s thrown to me,” Cribbs told the Browns' official website. “I’m excited about getting the ball in my hands and doing something with it. I’m still proving to the naysayers about catching the football, but I have no problem proving everybody wrong.” Hensley's slant: Cribbs might not get his way, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Cribbs isn't expected to come close to his 567 offensive snaps from last season because he is expected to see "heavy duty" on special teams. The Plain Dealer reported the Browns hope Josh Cooper and/or Jordan Norwood can fill the third receiver spot.

RAVENS: The Ravens’ medical staff has been examining sleep studies put together by the U.S. military to determine if it would make sense to change the team’s schedule when heading to the West Coast. One change would be to slowly move back morning meetings throughout the week (the morning meetings would begin 8:15 a.m. on Wednesday but start at 10:15 a.m. by Friday) so players will get acclimated to West Coast times. "We’re turning over every stone, looking at everything in our program, to find any way to get better,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh told the Ravens' official website. Hensley's slant: A change is probably in order for the Ravens. Last season, half of their regular-season losses came on the West Coast. Baltimore lost at Seattle (22-17) and at San Diego (34-14). The Ravens' only West Coast trip this season is at San Diego on Nov. 25.